You can buy a table lamp for £39.95
but you cannot afford to light it.
Instead, you spend hours gazing
at a stained-glass glow
you can never own.
A haircut at the barbers is a fiver
but you and your money are turned away
because you are a woman
requesting a crop cut.
Your cut should take longer,
be coloured and curled
and be more costly to maintain.
You resort to hacking your hair with scissors.
Buy an over-priced pint with the note.
Abdul’s corner shop,
the smaller schools.
Then the good old standards go:
Marks, Debenhams, Peacocks.
Those who complain
only ever buy online.
It is cheaper and delivery is free
if you keep spending.
is dismantling itself
one over-worked nurse
or PA at a time.
as the lonely find a self-serve checkout,
a machine for train tickets,
an instruction to disembark
at the centre of the bus.
The smiles and civilities have been sold
to the same place the grit is
and tarmac for potholes.
I am reminded of the time Kwik Save closed for good.
We ripped out the shelves with youthful relish
unplugged the freezers.
Glad we wouldn’t be going back.
But now when places close
the shelves and freezers stay in place.
No new buyers
to make these air hangars better, brighter, vital.
These high street windows
are dead-eyed and down-cast.
The heat chokes us.
The rain soaks us.
There is no comfort
in this summer.
We are all red-eyed and irritated.
We itch for a revolution.
We are hungry for it,
but we are tired
our cores are built from broken promises
and specks of guttering hope.
These used to be what made our eyes shine
they are now lit, sometimes, by wine or whisky.
Soon to be dead and dull
For all the good will have drained
from even the most optimistic minds.
when possibilities are many
as each runway, PROW or freedom
is grown over, boarded up or denied
our hopes are put out
with the small metal hat
that used to countdown to Christmas
but instead of building excitement
each extinguishing hurts
and is permanent.
We seek relief in the cloak of songs
from when we were fourteen.
We watch superhero films
to convince ourselves
it will all be okay.
But it isn’t.
And it won’t be.
There will be good moments.
Blissful weeks away from reality.
The world is dying.
There are no buyers.
We are the dinosaurs this time
hoping for a meteor
before bland-faced, blond-mopped stupidity
ends us instead.
Illustration: Claire Palmer